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This is off-topic, I know.

The new iPad is here and as much as I’m a fanboy of all-things-Apple (I would have given a kidney to Steve Jobs), I’m just not sure I see the need to buy one, yet. I dig the form factor and I think its very pretty, but its feature-set wouldn’t make me get rid of my kick-ass MacBook Pro.

Have you checked out the iPad? If so, let’s have some fun. Answer my slick (figured it out myself) survey below!

I’ve been getting a lot questions lately from astonished people, all asking, “How in the Hell can you do 13 rehabs at one time?” Fact is I solely (and with the help of three general contractors), am in the process of flipping 13 houses right now. To be perfectly honest, 5 are on the market and under contract, and I have yet to start on one of the rehabs – but until you collect that paycheck and the money is in your account, you are in fact rehabbing the house.

So how do I do it? Focus, great contractors and a lot of coffee. Sprinkle in a little luck and some pixie dust – and that’s my formula.  Seriously though, there is a rhythm and flow to every job. There is a process, and like the Ten Commandments, that process is etched in stone and should never change. If you follow the process, and you stagger your buying, you can easily do 13 rehabs at one time.

Here’s the secret:

When your life is really good or really bad birthday’s can be somewhat melancholy, right? A time of celebration and a time of reflection. This past weekend, I celebrated my 43 birthday. Yes, ladies and gents – I’m middle-aged and I’m having my crisis. No fast cars, or 25 year old bimbos for me, however. I’m just begging for more of the same wave I’m currently riding.

Life is pretty good these days, but it hasn’t always been this good. I savor each day. Less than 15 years ago I owned a bar in Baltimore City. At that time I was on top of the world. Business was great and the money was rolling in. I knew that I was destined to be an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with my partner – and I was forced to sell my 1/2 of the business. The sale sparked an almost 5 year turnaround marked with a seemingly endless death spiral of cascading debt, endless calls from bill collectors, horrible credit – and worst of all – depression and a complete lack of focus on my “next” destiny.

It really is amusing now, but I actually tried my hand at all of the following before becoming a full-time RE investor; mortgage loan officer, fine-wine sales, liquor store manager, desktop-support, server support, IT security – and finally RE investor. From a monetary standpoint, the jobs in IT were admittedly much better than the others, but I gotta be honest, I hated every one of those “in between” jobs.

Most who know me know that this was a VERY dark and depressing time in my life. Why do I tell you this? I tell you because I want you to know that its never too late to make a 180 degree shift in your life. If you hate the road your on, make a change! It may be a slow change, but if you never start, you’ll never finish.

At 43, and back on top of the world, I’m melancholy (at times) in knowing that so much of my early adulthood was spent in desperate search of something. And now that I’ve found all that I was searching for; my wife, my beautiful children and my dream-like “job” – I’m so sorry that it did not happen sooner.

I don’t wallow in melancholy, though.

So, Happy Birthday to me! Get out there and find what you love.

Last week I decided to go out to see my boy Bob Norton in Detroit. He didn’t need my help, but he was doing a bootcamp for some of his students, and some other folks – and I thought, what the heck, why not go have some fun, and hang with Big Bob. We had a blast, but my MacBook Pro did not.

Sorry for not posting lately…

…but my “brain” was severly damaged on the way back from Detroit. “Hey, F’ers in baggage, take it easy when chucking those bags!!”

So I get on this 20 minute flight from Philly to BWI, and the flight attendant says, “Sorry Sir, this plane is way too small to fit your carry-on.” With that, she takes my bag, and I don’t see it until I get off the plane.

The next morning, all bleary eyed from my mad-dash with Bobby, I open up my Mac and the LCD is shattered!  Yeah, that’s $1240.00 bucks people! Nice huh? And did I mention that U.S. Sc’Airways is giving me the cold shoulder?

Anyway, check out this video of me having fun, Commando-Style in Dirtty-troit. This is what Bad-Ass investors do. And if I was a bad-ass investor, I would do it more often. By the way, that is REAL blood in the end.

Now this is just plain silly. I walked in to a house yesterday, and just had to shoot this video. For all the hype “foreclosure parties” got in the media, I have been in only three houses where the previous owner trashed the place before leaving. Bob Norton and I took some fantastic video of a “foreclosure party” house in Phoenix. Hopefully I’ll get around to cutting that into a video for your viewing pleasure.

By the way – regarding that picture above of the ACORN workers; did you know in addition to believing that pimps should be allowed to use public money to open whore houses, ACORN actually believes there should be no more foreclosures, EVER? Hmmm…who do you think would pay for that little bail-out? Shout it out now, no need to raise hands here. Beuller…..anyone….Beuller?  You guessed it!!!  US….the american taxpayers.

What a friggin’ mess.

Photos are here:

I’ve had the great pleasure over the past several years of my investing life to meet and become friends with some pretty cool and amazingly, down-to-earth people. I’ve rubbed shoulders with and have been privileged to the inner thoughts of good friends; Steve Cook, Bob Norton, Shaun McCloskey, J.P. Moses, Fred Lewis, Steph Davis, etc… These are some big-time, very successful investors that I am honored to call friends.

I used to think all these people were so much different than me; so put-together, so firmly resolved, so on track. During lengthy conversations, my thoughts inevitably drifted to inner-doubts and questions regarding my own ability to succeed like them. My inner voice would say, “Gees, I’ll never get there because….,” or “If only I could be that lucky.”

Tell me if the following rings true with you.

I knew I could reach their level of success, but I didn’t really believe it. Like a snowball rolling downhill, my disbelief then generated layers upon layers of doubt and excuses. With the doubt then came reflex-like changes in my focus. I was a ship without a rudder. Every time I met a successful investor; each with their own niche, I then tried (and failed) to become that guy.

That is some SUPER-dangerous thinking, people. If you don’t truly believe in yourself and have 100% resolve in your personal definition of success, you’ll always be modeling yourself after the next successful person you meet. Meaning, success as you’ve defined it, will essentially become success as they’ve defined it. And when the inevitable frustration comes as you don’t quickly reach the bar they’ve reached, rather than that of which you’ve set for you, you’ll always make excuses for not, “getting there.” Like a ship without a rudder, you’ll blow with the wind to the next niche.

Making excuses for failure is so much easier than
constantly striving for success.
(I just made that up. Damn I’m good!)

That’s some pretty convoluted stuff, so I’ve broken it all down for you in a little video. Ever wonder why some people reach their goals and some don’t? The true answer is in the 5 minute video below.

Can someone, anyone, tell me where to find the ACTUAL lending rules for FHA buyers. Is it me or do they seem to change everyday? For the love of God, will the US Government just get the hell out of my way? All I want to do is buy super-crappy houses for pennies on the dollar, throw a chunk of money at them to make ‘em crazy pretty, and sell them for a huge profit. Simple, right?

Based on pure capitalism, my simple little business model seemingly flies directly into the face of the current administration, but its all I know – so I’m gonna keep on keeping on. That said, most if not all, of my buyers are first timer’s who use FHA or VA financing. I mean seriously, does anyone have 20% down anymore?

The FHA almost came to their senses by suspending the 90-day seasoning requirement on flips, and as we were all jumping for joy, we soon realized they didn’t. All the changes they made are now the subject of great debate. This is no lie – I’ve talked with lenders and other real estate investors just in the past few days who all seem to be confused regarding:

  1. What’s the deal with the 90-day rule? Can I sell a friggin’ house within 90 days or not?
  2. How many appraisals are needed and when a 2nd appraisal is ordered?
  3. What the rules are concerning flipping houses when you are an agent?
  4. What’s the deal with credit scores? Is it 580, or 620?
  5. Is there a new rule concerning raising the asking price to cover seller help?

Now, I KNOW, I read that they suspended the 90-day seasoning requirement and investors were jumping for joy thinking this applied to them- but then the FHA came out with more precise language. If you want to wade through it all you can do so by going to THIS LINK on HUD’s site.

The general consensus seems to be that the suspension applies only to buyer’s who are buying foreclosures from banks or clearing houses that sell bank REO’s – NOT – flipper who happen to get there rehabs done and sold under 90-days.

Tell me what you think. Tell me what you know! C’mon and chime in here and regale me with your knowledge on the subject.

More Helpful Links

FHA 90-Day Rule

FHA Considers Down Payment Requirements

FHA Increases Minimum Credit Score Requirement

At last count, there are now at least 163.5 real estate investment associations (REIA’s) in Maryland. Ok, maybe I missed one or two, but I’m pretty sure of my count. How many of you are actual members of a REIA? Let me break down for you what I think about REIA’s and then put out a call.

Maryland, for whatever reason, seems to be a hotbed for Real Estate Investment Clubs. Perhaps its the ever-hot market, perhaps we just have a lot of budding entrepreneurs – or maybe, we just have a lot of guys who are tired of doing deals, and they want to teach. Whatever the case, I know of at least TWELVE REIA’s in our little-tiny state.

Here’s the list I came up with, but I’m sure its not exhaustive:

Baltimore REIA
Mid Atlantic Real Estate Investors Assoc
Capital Area REIA
Washington DC Metro REIA
Washington REIA Network
District REIA
Beltway Breakfast Club no website only an email address
Maryland Real Estate Exchange Network
Young Investors Club of Crofton no website only an email address
Hub City REIA
The Real Deal

Are you kidding me? Do you get it? If so, shout it out!

Let me explain. In the past, REIA’s for the most part started out rather innocently. A small group, or even a single guy would get an idea to share his idea’s, tips, failures and successes with other like minded folks. Doing so would enable each to hold-up each other and therefore all would be more successful more quickly. Get it?

That was then. Let’s fast forward to a year or so ago, and allow me (the grizzled veteran) to pull back the curtain for ya. I hope this doesn’t shatter your view of humanity.

REIA’s, my little newbie pals, are nothing more than incubators for dollars. By in large they are now set-up to bring in newbies who hopefully have fat wallets. Think about it. Do you honestly think every organization above is run by charitable people who are all simply giving of their time and money just for the betterment of others? C’mon!!!!

The Guru comes to town, making his pitch.

Most REIA meetings start with a open forum where attendees can pitch a deal, or business. Then a the featured speaker gets up, fires up the crowd about a particular investment topic, tells you just enough to get you all foamy about making an easy bazillion, then says, “I just don’t have enough time tonight to go into all the details, but my whole system of books and tapes is for sale right now in the back of the room,” and, “I’ll be here on Saturday doing a morning workshop where I’ll speak in depth about how to make that bazillion.” That meeting will cost…..dollars.

And before the guy steps down from the podium, the newbs are already reaching for their wallets.

The speaker makes a killing…..but wait…..he only makes 1/2 a killing. Guess who makes the other 1/2? You guessed it. The REIA!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the free-flow of good info. And I even think that you should pay a price for knowledge.

Problem is, most info Guru’s have figured out how to make far more selling their stuff online rather than doing a dog-and-pony show at every REIA all over the fruited plain. That has left the REIA’s in search of new ideas to make profits.

The new profit center for REIA’s:  Education and Mentoring.

Today, REIA leaders see themselves in a different, yet much more lucrative light. They see themselves as that of a teacher or mentor. Now, ANYONE with any level of success (or failure) can start a REIA. If I wanted to, I bet I could have 50 attendees at my first REIA meeting.

REIA’s are now in the business of mentoring and deal partnering. Most make no bones about it. They say, “Go find the deal, put up the money, and we’ll help you….for 50% of the profit.”

That’s not so horrible, actually. But you have to ask – who am I getting into bed with? Does this person have an extensive track record of success in THIS market as well as in previous markets? Can they illustrate real proof? Can they show me a track record? And, most importantly, are they in this for my success as well as theirs, or are they in it for a fast buck?

I dare any REIA leader reading this post to tell me I am wrong. Do your research. Look into the each of the Maryland REIA above. I guarantee that most if not all offer mentoring services.

Here’s my call to you.

If you have a deal, and you need to wholesale it quick – I urge you to contact me. I’ll make you a sweet wholesale fee, and I won’t jerk you around. On the partnering front: I get so many requests to partner on deals and to mentor others. Let me just say –  if you want to partner on a deal, shoot me all the details. Under the right circumstances, I’ll think about it.

From where I sit; perched in front of my beloved MacBook Pro, drinking my favorite Mayorga Coffee – the state of the current real estate market in Maryland appears STRONG! This, my friends was a fan-f’ing-tastic week for your boy. And, once again, this week proved my real estate investing formula is still a formula that works. <—- and works well!

So how about a recap?

House Number 1: I told you all how I lost my buyer for the house in Glen Burnie. Like a little lamb; so demure – the buyer waited until day number 30 of the contract to let us know that she wasn’t interested in buying the house, then she had the unmitigated gull to ask for her deposit. We were obviously forced to re-list the property. I did on so on last Thursday night; Mrach 4th. By Saturday we had 5 showings, and one week later; this Thursday evening, we had two VERY solid “above asking price” contracts. We accepted one, ratified it, and we’re on our way (again) to settlement.

And to you; Miss Cold Feet – I want to extend my sincerest and warmest thanks for not buying our home. Thanks to your complete lack of integrity, I will make an additional $10,000.00. Not bad for a week’s work.

House Number 2: Our cute little rehab in Parkville went on the market last Saturday, March 6th. I don’t normally put houses on the market on a Saturday, but in this case, I thought, “F-it”, I’m gonna go for it. By Monday morning we had several showings, and by Wednesday, I had a fully ratified contract for $5,000 above asking price. Mmmmm….can ya feel it? God, I love when the stars align and a plan comes together. I knew Craig Fuhr-style house would go fast, but I never dreamed that we would have such a huge amount of interest in such a short period of time

House Number 3: My crowing glory and my greatest rehab yet in Hamilton went on the market on March 5th. I really struggled on pricing the beast. I originally put it on the market at $225,000, then, in a Sybil-moment, I immediately reduced it to $216,000. Man, I slept rough that night. The next morning I got on the phone with my partner, Bob Norton – and he affirmed my gut instinct that I should have left the price at $225,000. I immediately increased the asking price back to $225,000. Its a roller-coaster, Baby! Keep your hands in the car until it comes to a complete stop and, Enjoy The Ride.

It was a good thing I did make the change, as we had two competing contracts by the end of this week. One was full price with $10K Seller-help, the other was full-price with no seller help. Which one do you think we accepted? C’mon, just shout it out! No need to raise your hand.

So what’s the moral of the story:

1.  My real estate investment formula works well.

2.  The buyers are out there people! At times this week, it felt like 2004 again. I know I do incredible houses, I know I do them in places where people want to live, and I know I price them right – but damn – multiple showings in one day? Multiple offers and above asking? The buyers are out there. If you have rehabs, you better get ‘em on the market soon!

I’ve got some pretty good company when it comes to my blogging competition (friendly of course). There are some really great blogs out there that you all should read if you’re as much into investing as I am. This is not an exhaustive source, but these are my go to real estate investing Blogs of late. – Steph Davis is a friend. She’s come so far in her investing endeavors since we first met, and I’m proud of her. Her focus is on wholesaling – and she’s damn good at it. – Nick Johnson just flat out loves to write. His posts can get a little long, but damn are they information packed. You’ll usually see a new post from Nick on a daily basis. I love to catch up with his posts over my morning coffee. – Scott Costello seems like a really good and humble guy. I don’t know how hard he’s struggling at this point, but I do know he’s working pretty hard. He always has good content. Check it out! I don’t know a whole ton about this site, but I do know that every time I check it out, it seems chock-full-o-content.  Check it out, you’ll agree that there are a lot of smart people contributing to this site.

Ingrid Armstrong’s Blog – Scott Costello turned me on to Ingrid’s blog. Are you working a 9-to-5? Are you a mother or dad trying to keep it all together while also trying to make a better life for you and your family? If so, you’ll really identify with Ingrid. She’s a stay-at-home Mom who blogs about her path to becoming a real estate investor. Very insightful.

Square Feet Blog – Ok, like every residential investor, I too think about flipping and/or owning deals with more zeros. This is a pretty cool blog that deals with commercial real estate topics.